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New Book by Rockefeller College Professor

While Tip O’Neil’s infamous phrase “all politics is local��? remains part of national political rhetoric, (especially in election years!) a new book by University at Albany professor Sally Friedman, Dilemmas of Representation: Local Politics, National Factors, and the Home Styles of Modern U.S. Congress Members, highlights how “legislators can find surprising and creative ways of combining the local and the national��? (29).

Seemingly contrary to her thesis, Friedman, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rockefeller College, University at Albany, keeps the focus of her book localized. In the opening chapter, “Overview of Theoretical and Methodological Concerns��? readers learn not only how she focused on New York State, but also why. Using ten congressional representatives from New York as her starting point, Freidman suggests that in the twenty years since Richard Fenno’s Home Style, which presented representational politics as requiring almost a singular focus on local issues, there has been shift more equal focus between local and national issues. In this new focus, Freidman points to the trend of representatives working more intimately at national and international events, in conjunction with local concerns, to structure their stances and policies. Friedman investigates the numerous factors initiating this change, detailing how adherence to ideologies along party lines, pressing (and highly contestable) national issues and the role of the Executive Branch come together to directly influence legislators.

Written in conjunction with several of her graduate students, Friedman’s book is thoroughly researched while remaining accessible and informative. The plethora of charts and data she incorporates to support her conclusions are well-designed and add much to the presentation of the topic. Local readers might also enjoy the fact that one of her highlighted representatives is Mike McNulty, the Democrat who represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes Albany County. Astute readers will note that Fenno was Friedman’s undergraduate professor. This book is a prime source for those interested in, or students engaged with American politics and the forces driving them in the 21st century.

Blog Post Written By Michael Daly